Relationship building and holistic dentistry: Be the influencer you were meant to be
What is the secret to getting patients to follow our advice? As RDH Paula Quinn discovered, it’s all about building the relationship! Only then can we influence patients with a holistic view of their health.
WHAT IS A HOLISTIC APPROACH IN DENTISTRY?
As members of the dental profession, we often hear the term “holistic approach”. But what exactly does this mean? At the heart of this idea is a philosophy of health care in which the whole of a patient’s health is assessed and treated, not just the problem that presents itself on the day of the patient’s visit.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL AND DENTAL HEALTH IN HEALTHY LIVING?
Adopting a holistic approach to healthy living is important for every individual. Traditional Western medicine often focuses on treating symptoms rather than root problems. As dentists, we now have the opportunity to show our patients that dental health is just as important as nutrition, exercise, preventive care or an annual physical. We can give them the education and tools they need to transition to total well-being.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL AND DENTAL HEALTH IN COMMUNITY HEALTH?
How do we create an environment that leads to total wellness? Incorporating this approach into patient care should start at the beginning of every patient interaction. It takes into account the physical, mental and social factors of a patient’s condition rather than just the diagnosed disease.
Relationship building and holistic dentistry: Be the influencer you need to be
What is the secret to getting patients to follow our advice? As RDH Paula Quinn discovered, it’s all about building the relationship! Only then can we influence patients with a holistic view of their health. Find out where to start in this article. Achieving insight requires more than completed paperwork. It requires a strong relationship. Studies show that people are effectively influenced in the context of a meaningful relationship. In the dental profession, this is achieved through individualized care, transparency, honesty and openness.
What are the keys to building strong relationships? Having core principles allows you to create a framework for every interaction. Here are my core principles that shape every patient encounter.
Make patients feel like more than just a number to you.
Make them feel important and unique. This requires you to be fully engaged during interactions with patients and members of your office.
Make sure they understand that everything they fill out, the questions you ask and the information they share are all taken into consideration. Commit to asking for specific, detailed medical histories. Understanding what they value and their concerns helps you understand all the ways you can help patients to total health.
Make sure the patient can see all aspects of their dental care – transparency into every issue, every question, every action, every benefit, every cost and every option. If your solutions cannot stand in the light of transparency, the patient will eventually lose trust in you.
We welcome your questions and plan your time accordingly. A few more minutes at the beginning guarantees engagement at the end of the conversation.
“Trust will never develop without the truth.” Building a relationship with the new patient based on honesty is worth the best effort because it ensures a lifetime of dental health.
Make sure they know about their problems, causes, all options, real costs and a realistic timeframe. This is the time to show that you understand their whole health picture. Not all causes start in the mouth!
Do not minimize the patient’s concerns and problems. It is important to help the patient understand all aspects of treatment. However, it is also important that the patient understands the importance of their issues. If they have an infection, do not use phrases like “You have a bit of an infection” or minimize their problems. Tell them the truth to allow them to make the right decisions and understand the consequences of choices.
Speak in a way your patient understands.
Explain technical and dental terms in a user-friendly way. Patients are often intimidated by language that makes them feel they need to know something they don’t know.
Pause between concepts to allow patients to absorb your message and perhaps ask questions. Make as much eye contact as possible to ensure you are aware when an individual is confused or unsure. Be fully prepared for patient interaction so that you can speak freely and see what reaction you get.
Focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and show yourself as an advocate for the patient. This is done by challenging patients to think beyond their immediate pain points. Not only does the patient need specialized help at this time, but they must also adopt several changes in their behavior to support treatment of the immediate problem.
In building this relationship, we encourage your patients to adopt better self-care habits (e.g. brushing, flossing) regular care with cleanings and follow-up appointments and to know the consequences of their choices in both self-care and treatment provided.
We know that patients who present with preventive care have better health outcomes with lower health costs, fewer complications and less risk of ongoing problems. Show them aggressive dentistry with the most organic, cost-effective and effective treatment. Through your guidance, patients begin to grasp and implement the holistic approach for themselves.
Define your core principles, apply these principles to every patient interaction and enhance patient relationships. These important steps taken at the very beginning of the hygienist/patient relationship can change the way your patients interact with all aspects of your practice and lead to a lifetime of (overall) dental health wellness.
Using a holistic approach, we build a bond that will be the driving force behind the patient’s long-term care, providing a foundation for total health and allowing you to be the sphere of influence you need to be.